（Written by Xu Junhao / Translated by Chen Zhiying）More than 100,000 square meters of offline exhibition halls, 190 forums and negotiation activities, and participation of 22,000 enterprises and institutions from 148 countries and region. As the first major international economic and trade activity held offline by China since the COVID-19, the 2020 China International Fair for Trade in Services (hereinafter referred to as the Fair for Trade in Services) has become a signal to China’s economic recovery and vigorously promoted the innovative development and international cooperation of trade in services.
Less than a week after the closing of the Fair for Trade in Services, the CAEXPO Secretariat announced that the 17th CAEXPO would be held from November 27 to 30, 2020. It will be another major international event of cooperation in trade of services after the Fair for Trade in Services, and will again promote the development of trade in services between China and ASEAN.
Trade in services between China and ASEAN boasts huge development potential
From the signing of the Agreement on Trade in Services under the framework of China-ASEAN Free Trade Area in 2007 to the operation of the upgraded Protocol in 2019, the level of liberalization and facilitation of China-ASEAN trade in services has been gradually improved, and the market of trade in services of both sides has been gradually opened up. For example, in the upgraded Protocol, both sides have made commitments such as expanding the service industry, allowing the other party to establish sole proprietorship or joint ventures, relaxing the shareholding ratio restrictions for establishing companies, and allowing the other party to expand its business scope and reduce regional restrictions.
Over the past decade, China and ASEAN have made remarkable achievements in the development of trade in services, and there are many highlights in the cooperation of cross-border tourism, transportation, construction, and communication. However, compared with the scale of bilateral trade in goods, the trade in services between China and ASEAN still has a lot of room for development. In particular, with the accelerated application of digital technology in trade of services, and the cultivation of new formats and models of digital trade such as E-commerce, China-ASEAN cooperation in digital trade has shown great potential.
From January to July 2020, the total trade value between China and ASEAN was RMB 2.51 trillion yuan, accounting for 14.6% of China’s total foreign trade value. ASEAN’s position as China’s largest trading partner was further consolidated. China and ASEAN are each other’s largest trading partners. Economic and trade cooperation potential and development sustainability between both sides are huge. Moreover, many parties including China, ASEAN, Japan, and South Korea are looking forward to signing the Regional Comprehensive Economic Partnership Agreement (RCEP) in 2020. Under various favorable conditions, the potential of trade in services between China and ASEAN will be further released.
CAEXPO: supporting China-ASEAN trade in services as always
As an exhibition accompanying China-ASEAN Free Trade Area (CAFTA) and serving the construction of CAFTA, CAEXPO has always played an important and supporting role in the development of China-ASEAN trade in services.
In 2007, China and ASEAN signed the Agreement on Trade in Services. The 4th CAEXPO held in the same year followed the trend closely, focusing on providing matching services for China-ASEAN trade in services, increasing exhibition contents of port cities of various countries, and promoting the formation of a perfect port service network between China and ASEAN, thus becoming a new platform for business opportunities of trade in services in CAFTA.
In 2010, CAFTA was completed as scheduled. In this context, the 7th CAEXPO added a new topic on trade in services, and held a number of promotion meetings in finance, tourism, logistics, education, etc. to facilitate the in-depth cooperation between the two sides, and gradually put the cooperation of trade in services into practice.
Up to now, the CAEXPO is not only a big stage to show the latest achievements of China-ASEAN service industry, but also an important channel for the service industry to “bring in” and “go out”.
The theme of “City of Charm” is one of the highlights in promoting the cooperation in tourism and in trade of services. Up to now, more than 160 cities from China and ASEAN countries have been exhibited as the “City of Charm”, which serves as a concrete platform for promoting exchanges and cooperation between cities in China and ASEAN, and for cities of various countries to quickly enhance international popularity and competitiveness.
It is reported that the 17th CAEXPO will continue to set an exhibition hall under the theme of trade in services, covering financial services, tourism image and talent services. The theme of the 17th CAEXPO has been determined as “Jointly Building the Belt and Road and Developing Digital Economy”. Guided by digital economy and a new generation of information technology, it will lead to high quality development and industrial transformation and upgrading. The new generation of information technology and digital economy are new technologies and business forms that all countries use as new economic driving forces to promote their development. The digital economy exhibition and related forums featuring the theme held for the first time will enhance the exchange and cooperation in information technology services and digital trade between China and ASEAN.
Whether in the traditional trade in services, or in the emerging one of both sides, the CAEXPO will strive to promote a new round of fruitful results.
Source: China-ASEAN Panorama